09 February 2009

DVD: "The Matador" - Widescreen Edition

The Matador - Widescreen Edition
Written and Directed by Richard Shepard
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall, Dylan Baker
DVD Release Date: 4 July 2006
MPAA Rating: R (For Strong Sexual Content and Language)
List Price: $14.95
Cinescopes Personality Types: Destined Hunter, Dedicated Idealist, Loyal Warrior

The Film
Julian (Brosnan) is a hit man on assignment in Mexico City.  Danny (Kinnear) is in town trying to win a client for his company in a bidding war.  The two are an unlikely pair, and yet Danny is too facinated by Julian to simply stay away from him.  Their genuine friendship sows the seeds of Julian's downfall, as his humanity surfaces and interferes with his professional performance.  The plot is straight-forward, yet full of enough surprises and jolts to be compelling.  Brosnan's performance is simply astounding, and Kinnear more than holds his own.  Hope Davis brings much-needed feminine charm to the film as Danny's wife, Bean.

The DVD
The Matador makes the most of its single-disc issue, with two feature-length commentaries, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a featurette on the making of the film, the original theatrical trailer and a TV spot and a discussion on radio shows about the film.  Writer/director Shepard appears in both commentary tracks; solo in one, and accompanied by Brosnan and Kinnear in the second.  In his solo commentary, Shepard sings the praises of his actors and cinematography, David Tattesall, and his only laments are about a few songs he had originally wished to use (Frank Sinatra's recording of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Evening" cost too much, and he was the only one in favor of using REO Speedwagon).  Brosnan and Kinnear seem to have genuinely taken to one another, and it not only shows on screen--it can be heard in their banter, alternately bolstering one another and then chiding.

The Recommendation
I was fortunate enough to have seen this in its theatrical run, such as it was, and instantly loved it.  The film only runs 97 minutes and it goes at a brisk pace.  Somehow, though, it still has time for a great deal of character development and some genuinely touching moments between Kinnear and Davis, and Kinnear and Brosnan.  The bonus features are interesting and fully supplement the film itself.  This has actually displaced The Thomas Crown Affair for a spot in my Top Ten Favorite Films list.  For fans of character driven, intimate films or those who really want to see a fascinating performance by a lead actor of Brosnan's stature, The Matador comes with my highest recommendation.

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